The Macau government proposes upping maximum jail sentences and permitted duration of what is termed ‘preventive detention’ in relation to gambling crimes, including the so-called “multiplier” practice. The proposals are in a draft of a rejig for the city’s Illegal Gambling Regime, the original known as Law No.8/96/M. Upon being updated, it would be renamed as “Law to Combat Gambling Crimes”.
The legal proposal was outlined during a press briefing on Monday on behalf of the city’s Executive Council, which advises the local government. The Macau government said it had suggested “explicit” inclusion of the multiplier practice as a form of “illegal operation of games of fortune”.
The government also proposes banning any “operation, promotion and organising” of “online games of fortune and mutual betting”, regardless of whether the “computing systems, installations and equipment” for supporting such gambling activities are hosted in Macau.
“In this legal proposal, our suggestion is that we are increasing the imprisonment terms – including for the illegal operation of games of fortune and illegal operation of mutual betting – from the existing maximum of three years to [the range of] one year to eight years,” said Coco Leong Weng In (pictured left), director of the city’s Legal Affairs Bureau, in response to press questions at the Monday briefing.
“Considering the crimes defined in this legal proposal – namely the illegal operation of games of fortune, illegal operation of mutual betting and illegal operation of online gambling – we have proposed extending the preventive detention period for such activities…by two months to one year,” Ms Leong added.
With the multiplier, the bet denominated at the casino gaming table actually represents a bet made privately that can be a multiple many times the ‘official’ one, which is already a crime punishable in the prevailing Law No.8/96/M.
The multiplier practice – a factor in the sentencing terms for former Macau junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa and another former junket boss Levo Chan Weng Lin – is now specified in the legal proposal as a form of illegal gaming operation that involves the use of “wagering on the results generated from approved gambling activities”, Ms Leong explained during the briefing.
André Cheong Weng Chon (pictured right), the Executive Council spokesman and the Secretary for Administration and Justice, said in the briefing: “In Macau…we have observed in judicial practice – including in some recent cases – that such [multiplier] behaviour has been exercised both on an individual level, and organised by a group, and were penalised accordingly…but indeed, as to which criminal laws should be considered to apply on the multiplier, there have been different interpretations on the subject.”
‘Multiplier’, online betting
Mr Cheong added: “That is why we now proposed to include this [multiplier] as an illegal operation of games of fortune in clear terms, so that we can avoid seeing different interpretations on what constitute the criminal elements to such crime.”
With the legal proposal, the government also suggested that individuals that are placed in preventive detention over suspected involvement in illegal operation of games of fortune or mutual betting, are barred from contacting others except their lawyers, before a judicial interrogation. Such proposed arrangement has taken as a reference point, existing procedures targeting “crimes of violence”, or crimes that are “highly organisational”, said Ms Leong.
She said that for some “severe” instances of alleged criminal activity linked to illegal operation of games of fortune, mutual betting or online gaming, security departments would also under the proposal have the right to search suspects’ houses during the period of “9pm to 7am”, without the suspects’ approval. This was on the basis that the departments can present a search warrant. She did not elaborate on what would count as an accusation of a “severe” gambling crime that could result in such a search operation.
Ms Leong did note however that such mooted search arrangements had taken into account the “nocturnal” nature of gambling crime scenarios, and the police search practice for drug trafficking crimes.
In order to tackle the “hidden” nature of gambling crimes, the government has also proposed to allow “undercover” investigation by police to probe into these crimes, along with the setting up of a so-called “protection mechanism” for informants that assist the police in their investigations.
The legal proposal aims to tackle what were termed loopholes seen in the practice of the existing regime against gambling crimes that has been in effect for over 20 years, and is not linked to any “cross-border gambling” combat initiative on the Chinese mainland, Mr Cheong also remarked at the Monday briefing.
Feb 28, 2024Members of Macau’s Legislative Assembly approved on Wednesday the first reading of the draft “Law to Combat Gambling Crimes”, which has been presented by the city’s authorities as a...
Feb 28, 2024
Feb 28, 2024
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